Putting on a Jekyll-and-Hyde-like display at Long Island's Nassau Veterans Coliseum on Jan. 16., Lil Wayne opened with humble gratitude and spiritual reflection, but just minutes later he added. "I'm the best rapper on earth." All night long, Weezy repeatedly went from street to sentimental and then back again; gleefully grinding on backup dancers at some points, and at other times solemnly pacing the stage with a frown on his dreadlock-obscured mug.
His highly-lauded album, "The Carter III," as well as many of his recent mixtapes, has built a massive, diverse fan base. The packed venue that night was filled to capacity with kids who spit every single lyrics before it even spilled from Wayne's lips. The ice-grilled, New Orleans rapper fed off the crowd, getting a huge response when he asked them "how many people have at least 20 of my mixtapes?"
After the short but engaging performances by the other openers - Keyshia Cole and Gym Class Heroes - T-Pain launched his set right before the main event. With a flashier than necessary three ring circus - as per his latest album title - and fire throwers and a midget Britney Spears impersonator, T-Pain's spectacle reached its' pinnacle during a much quieter moment. His short a capella session featured him hitting the high notes as his face dripped with sweat from labored yet fruitful attempts to prove there's a vocalist behind that vocoder. He managed to perform every single that brought him to attention, but "Chopped and Screwed," brought the most crowd participation.
Lil Wayne's headling set, which followed, began with a jack-in-the-box entrance where he popped out of the stage unexpectedly before perfomring "Hey Mr. Carter." With his DJ and band suspended from above on individual stages, Weezy dabbled in a few of his underground hits including "Sky's the Limit" as well as some throwback Cash Money flavor with "The Block is Hot."
Keri Hilson sauntered on stage singing her current single "Turnin' Me On," dressed in a neon mini jacket, black skinny jeans and sky-high platform boots. Wayne dropped his verse on the track, and after an artificial flirtation between the two, Ms. Hilson posted up behind him -
at almost a foot taller - and proclaimed "There's nothing little about this Wayne," lifting his white tee to reveal a tatted-up torso.
After some fluffy guest appearances from a slew of his Young Money artists, Lil Wayne pulled up a chair and said "Who in here is not afraid of love?" as he strummed the opening riffs for "Prostitute." He brought it back to the club later in the show, serenading "Mrs. Officer," and then gyrating on the floor to his rock-infused rendition of "Lollipop." Wrapped in a red boxer's robe, Weezy exited with Whitney's Houston's "I Will Always Love You" blaring in the background, yet nearly drowned out by screaming fans.